NBA teams will be able to rest only one star player per game this season under new rules, with potential fines of millions of dollars.
The Player Participation Policy defines a star player as anybody picked in an All-NBA Team or NBA All-Star team in the previous three seasons.
“If you’re a healthy player in this league, you’re expected to play,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
NBA teams will play 82 regular-season games from 24 October until 19 April.
Teams have been told to “manage its roster to ensure that no more than one star player is unavailable for the same game”.
Teams will be fined $100,000 for the first violation and $250,000 for the second. Each further violation will be met by a fine of $1m more than the previous one.
Franchises have to “maintain a balance” between the home and away games a star player misses, while star players have to be available for all nationally televised matches.
If a fit player is rested, they must attend the game and be “visible to fans”. Star players cannot have a “long-term shutdown” – a run of games they miss.
The new policy has exceptions for injuries, personal reasons and pre-approved restrictions on back-to-back games based on age, career workload and injury history.
Teams play roughly every two days during the season – 82 matches over 178 days.
The NBA has cut down on teams having to play consecutive games in different cities, increasing back-to-back away games against the same opposition.
Silver said: “It’s a shared view by everyone in the league – it’s not just coming from the league office.
“There’s an acknowledgment across the league that we need to return to that principle. There’s a sense from all the different constituent groups across the league that this is about the fans.
“It’s gotten away from us, particularly when you see young, healthy players.
“We don’t see any statistical data suggesting players increase their likelihood of getting injured as they go further along in their season, or even in back-to-backs, which may surprise people.”